The hotel industry faces new challenges and opportunities as COVID makes hoteliers rethink the viability of their food and beverage services and adapt for the future in ways many could have never anticipated. While the transformation of food and beverage offerings at hotels and resorts is an ongoing strategy to provide unique experiences while increasing revenue, hoteliers and restaurateurs must rework their offerings in order to maintain approachable for as many potential customers as possible for the long term.
Embracing the Contactless Experience
We are witnessing the end of traditional room service as guests looks for contactless ways to dine. In most upper market properties, full-service room service has been replaced by 'to go' packaged deliveries to guest rooms. This is likely to remain as the process of choice for both guests and operators. We will start to see more attention given to to-go packaging including specialty containers improving food presentation and creative branding so that guests still feel connected to the restaurant. Like guests, operators have also embraced paperless menus as it is eco-friendly, saves on printing costs and allows for more flexibility when making menu changes. The ease of QR codes linking menus to smart phones is a convenience that has been quickly embraced and appreciated by guests. While it will never fully replace traditional menus, it is a feature that will likely become a guest expectation.
The pandemic has caused consumers to rethink where they spend their money and emphasis the need for supporting the immediate community. Guests are placing an enhanced expectation on quality and creativity and are expecting the availability of locally produced spirits, beer, wine, and menus with locally sourced ingredients. Guests also want to dine in a place where they can safely socially distance from other guests, so operators are focusing more on maximizing outdoor dining spaces. Hotels that have easy-to-adapt indoor-outdoor spaces are in a particularly fortunate position and can better attract guests who are more comfortable in spacious outside seating areas. Operators lacking adjustable space will look to increase their outdoor patio, lounge, and bar spaces to expand their footprint and promote social distancing.
Reimaging Hotel Food and Beverage Sales
As guests ease into the comforts of dining at home more frequently, it will be key for operators to tap into this market. The opportunity to include packaged liquor sales like a bottle of wine, beer, or cocktail components with 'to go' orders are an easy revenue enhancement and guest convenience. Hotels will continue to pursue this where jurisdictions allow. With dining at home comes opportunity to reach guests through online delivery platforms, and the ability to consistently deliver a seamless process and quality product will become an expectation. Hotels will look to find ways to ease the process by tying online ordering to QR menus or other web-based apps to best take advantage of this emerging revenue source. Lastly, operators must prepare for the dine at home trend to continue to grow post pandemic, and restaurants as an industry will have to be creative and nimble to reach new markets. Hotel restaurants can still serve seasonal menus to at-home diners by offerings a holiday dinner full meal take-away option. Other pre-packaged items like meat products and signature cocktail kits can be sold a la carte. Hotel restaurants can take it one step further by building their offerings with pre-packaged made items such as pasta, sauces, and specialty pickled items for sale.